Brazil and the U.S. Drive New Coronavirus Infections
Brazil and the U.S. Drive New Coronavirus Infections
As new cases surge in the U.S., the White House acknowledges preparing for a fall wave.
Peter Navarro, the White House director of trade and manufacturing policy, said in an interview on Sunday that the White House was working to prepare for the possibility of a second wave of the coronavirus in the fall, though he said it wouldn’t necessarily come.
“We are filling the stockpile in anticipation of a possible problem in the fall,” Mr. Navarro told Jake Tapper on the CNN program “State of the Union.” “We’re doing everything we can.”
The comments come in contrast to President Trump’s repeated assertions that the virus will “go away” and his questioning of its ability to last into the fall and winter.
But if anything, the virus is gaining ground. Nationwide, cases have risen 15 percent over the last two weeks. Cases are rising in 18 states across the South, West and Midwest. Seven states hit single-day case records Saturday, and five others hit a record earlier in the week.
In Harris County, Texas, which includes most of Houston, more than 1,100 new infections were reported both Friday and Saturday, by far the two highest daily totals there. Public health experts in Texas warned of a dire outlook.
The Trump administration’s latest reckoning with the magnitude of the health crisis came on the same day that the World Health Organization reported the largest one-day increase in infections across the globe. It said that there were 183,020 new cases, with Brazil and the United States accounting for the most new infections.
The pandemic has now sickened more than 8,899,000 people, and at least 466,200 people have died, according to a New York Times database.
California reported 4,515 new cases on Sunday, setting a record for the highest daily increase in the number of infections since the pandemic began in March. Los Angeles County accounted for 47 percent of the total number of cases statewide, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Also Sunday, Missouri reported 397 new cases and Oklahoma reported 478 new cases, which were both records.
Across the United States, the number of new infections has steadily risen during the past five days after plateauing for the previous 80 days.
At the same time, overall deaths have dropped dramatically. The 14-day average was down 42 percent as of Saturday.
Strikingly, the new infections have skewed younger, with more people in their 20s and 30s testing positive, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said. These clusters may be especially worrying to colleges and universities that plan to bring students back to campus in the fall, when the coronavirus and the flu virus are expected to be circulating simultaneously.
In Florida — which “has all the makings of the next large epicenter,” according to model projections by the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — an advisory from the state’s Department of Health this weekend recommended that people avoid crowds larger than 50 people. It also encouraged social distancing and mask wearing at smaller gatherings.
Mr. Trump is set to deliver his national convention speech on Aug. 27 in Jacksonville, Fla., inside an arena that holds 15,000 people.
Health experts challenge Trump’s remarks about virus testing.
Health experts directly contradicted President Trump’s recent promise that the disease will “fade away” and his remarks at a rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday night that disparaged the value of virus tests.
Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the spikes in confirmed cases were not simply a result of increased testing. Pointing to increased hospitalizations, he said, “That’s a real rise.”
On “Face the Nation” on CBS, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said, “We’re seeing the positivity rates go up. That’s a clear indication there is now community spread underway, and this isn’t just a function of testing more.”
Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director for the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, warned on Sunday that the country was likely to experience one long stretch of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
“I don’t think this is going to slow down. I’m not sure the influenza analogy applies anymore,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” referring to a report he and colleagues wrote in April using influenza pandemics as a model for understanding the virus. “I think that wherever there’s wood to burn, this fire is going to burn it.”
“I don’t think we’re going to see one, two and three waves — I think we’re just going to see one very very difficult forest fire of cases,” Dr. Osterholm said.
Peter Navarro, the White House director of trade and manufacturing policy, said that Mr. Trump’s comment at the campaign rally about wanting to slow down virus testing had been “tongue in cheek.”
At the rally, Mr. Trump said: “When you do testing to that extent, you will find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’”
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, tweeted on Sunday: “The president’s efforts to slow down testing to hide the true extent of the virus means more Americans will lose their lives.”
Mr. Trump’s call for fewer tests to be conducted also drew condemnation from prominent doctors, including Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School.
“He acknowledges what we’ve seen — active obstruction of testing in a pandemic which claimed 120K lives so far,” Dr. Gawande wrote Sunday on Twitter. “If I did this for 10 people at my hospital, it’d be a crime.”
At the rally, which drew roughly 6,200 attendees to a 19,000-seat indoor arena, according to the Tulsa Fire Department’s count of scanned tickets, Mr. Trump also boasted about his coronavirus response and blamed China for the pandemic’s economic damage in the United States, saying the country “sent us the plague.”
He referred to the virus disparagingly as “kung flu,” echoing past remarks of a White House official, despite criticism that the phrase, as well as “Chinese virus,” which Mr. Trump has also used, was racist. Public health experts have repeatedly noted that viruses have no ethnicity and expressed concern that associating them with an ethnic group encourages discrimination.
An earlier version of this item incompletely described the forecast of a researcher, Dr. Michael Osterholm, in a report discussing the pandemic’s possible course in the United States. Dr. Osterholm and his co-authors did not predict a first and second wave, with a decline in between. They outlined several possible scenarios, among them one characterized by successive waves.
The leader of Belarus, in power for 26 years, faces criticism over his response to the virus.
President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, who has been in power for 26 years, was once praised by a large segment of the population for keeping the country stable — and avoiding the turmoil and mass unemployment seen across much of the former Soviet Union in the 1990s.
Now Mr. Lukashenko faces a groundswell of criticism, particularly over his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. He is so unsettled by a surge of discontent and support for prospective rivals in the August 9 election that he has turned his propaganda machine on Moscow, long his closest ally and principal benefactor.
Despite only patchy testing for the virus, Belarus has reported over 58,000 cases, compared with about 32,000 in neighboring Poland, which has four times its population. Mr. Lukashenko has spent weeks criticizing lockdowns elsewhere, calling them a “frenzy and psychosis.”
“There are no viruses here,” he said in March, gesturing to a crowded arena after playing in an amateur ice hockey tournament. “Do you see any of them flying around? I don’t see them either.”
Last month, Mr. Lukashenko pressed on with his own Victory Day parade, saying it was better to “die standing up than live kneeling down.”
By contrast, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia bowed to health warnings and put off a big military parade in Red Square to celebrate the Red Army’s defeat of Nazi Germany. (It is now scheduled for this Wednesday.)
Maryna Rakhlei, an Eastern European expert at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, said that Mr. Lukashenko’s troubles were largely the result of widespread fatigue among citizens over his long time in office and his poor response to the virus.
“The situation threatens to spin out of control for Lukashenko,” Ms. Rakhlei said. “He is not really able to silence the protests as they are largely on social media and spread like forest fire.”
As Beijing struggles to stop an outbreak that appears to have started at a vast wholesale food market, China’s customs agency is taking aim at a U.S. company in a politically contentious industry: Tyson Foods.
China’s General Administration of Customs said on Sunday that effective immediately, it was temporarily suspending poultry imports from a Tyson Foods slaughterhouse that has had coronavirus cases among its workers.
Scientists have said that the coronavirus appears to spread mostly through the air, not contaminated meat. But China has already curbed almost all transmission of the virus within its own borders and is looking to stamp out even low-probability risks.
The Chinese agency’s notice did not identify the location of the slaughterhouse, providing instead a registration number: P5842. That plant is in Springdale, Ark.
Over the course of this spring, Tyson Foods has disclosed cases among its workers in several U.S. states. On Friday, the company said that 13 percent of the 3,748 employees at its facilities in northwestern Arkansas had tested positive for the virus. Almost all were asymptomatic.
Safety limits on food imports from the United States could make it even harder for China to meet its promise to buy more American goods as part of the first phase of a trade agreement signed with the Trump administration in January.
In other international news:
Echoing similar moves by India, Germany, Italy, Spain and other countries, Britain’s government plans to propose on Monday that it be allowed to oversee mergers and takeovers in order to protect its ability to combat a public health emergency like the pandemic. An existing law already gives the government oversight of such deals on grounds of national security, media plurality and financial stability.
Police in The Hague said on Twitter that they had detained about 400 people on Sunday who had protested against the Dutch government’s social-distancing measures. There has been significant unrest in the Netherlands over the closure of businesses and restrictions on public gatherings.
More than 3.6 million people tuned in this weekend to watch a live-streamed summer solstice sunset and sunrise at Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument in southwestern England, after the site’s annual gathering was canceled because of the pandemic.
India’s hospitals, crammed with Covid patients, turn others away.
India is now reporting more infections a day than any other nation except the United States or Brazil. On Sunday, it reported a single-day record of more than 15,000 new cases.
Now the country’s already strained and underfunded health care system has begun to buckle: A database of recent deaths reveals that scores of people have died in the streets or in the back of ambulances, denied critical care.
Indian government rules explicitly call for emergency services to be rendered, yet people in desperate need of treatment are being turned away, especially in New Delhi.
Infections are rising quickly, Delhi’s hospitals are overloaded and many health care workers are afraid of treating new patients in case they have the virus, which has killed more than 13,000 people in the country. On Monday alone, the government recorded more than 400 deaths, nearly half of them in the hard-hit western state of Maharashtra.
“There is currently little or no chance of admission to hospitals for people with Covid-19, but also for people with other intensive care needs,” the German Embassy in New Delhi warned.
After watching television reports showing bodies in the lobby of a government hospital and crying patients being ignored, a panel of judges on India’s Supreme Court said, “The situation in Delhi is horrendous, horrific and pathetic.”
As complaints began to pile up, the government issued a directive re-emphasizing that hospitals should remain open for “all patients, Covid and non-Covid emergencies.”
But clearly not everyone has been listening. A 13-year-old boy in Agra died of a stomach ailment after being turned away from six hospitals, his family said. Another boy, in Punjab, with an obstructed airway, was rejected from seven hospitals and died in the arms of a family friend.
“This is inhuman,” one doctor said.
Wildlife trade spreads coronaviruses as animals go to market.
A study of the wildlife trade in three provinces in southern Vietnam has confirmed that the sale of bushmeat offers an ideal opportunity for viruses to jump between animal species.
The results of the tests — conducted in 2013 and 2014 long before the emergence of the virus behind the current pandemic — show unequivocally how viruses spread between animals as they are transported in crowded conditions.
The percentage of field rats, eaten in Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia, which tested positive for at least one of six coronaviruses jumped significantly after being transported with other species. It rose from 20 percent of wild-caught rats sold by traders, to slightly over 30 percent at large markets, to 55 percent of rats sold in restaurants.
A team of scientists including Sarah H. Olson, an epidemiologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society who directed the research, posted a report of their research, which has not yet been peer reviewed but has been submitted to a scientific journal, on a website for unpublished research, bioRxiv.
Dr. Olson said she expected some increase in infections, because many animals are shipped together in proximity, putting them under high stress and more prone to disease. “It’s classic disease ecology,” she said.
But she had not expected the degree of rising infections.
“We saw this huge step-by-step increase,” she said. “I kept going back to check the data.”
The Bundesliga’s new TV deal could mark the end of an inflationary bubble.
Germany’s top soccer league returned to action in May after a two-month hiatus, offering a model to other leagues pressing forward with their own returns.
Now the league, the Bundesliga, has become the first major European soccer competition to sell its domestic broadcast rights since the coronavirus outbreak. But the clues from Germany this time are far less reassuring.
The Bundesliga’s four-year deal, which will be announced on Monday, generated less than the record 4.6 billion euros ($5.1 billion) that the league earned under its current agreements, but not by a significant amount, according to two people with knowledge of the sale. The pool of broadcasters narrowed, too.
The modest decrease in the new deal’s value could be encouraging for other leagues and clubs that are entering negotiations uncertain if games will be played on schedule, in front of fans — or even if they will take place at all.
But the reduced fee and smaller pool of interested bidders may also be a sign that a yearslong inflationary bubble for elite-level sports programming may be over, even as premium sports properties are likely to command large fees for the foreseeable future.
Can gay bars, an anchor of N.Y.C. nightlife, survive the pandemic?
Gay bars in New York City face the same challenges as other establishments shuttered in recent months — high rents, thin profit margins and now little to no income — but for L.G.B.T.Q. establishments the shutdown during the coronavirus has been more than a financial predicament.
It has struck at the heart of a community whose culture and history are passed down through generations of people not related by blood, and who depend on spaces like bars to find safety and meet their peers.
The financial pain is particularly acute during June, which as Pride Month is often the most lucrative time of year for L.G.B.T.Q. establishments. Millions of people attended Pride events in New York last year, including a parade that passes the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.
The venue — described by its owners as a watering hole, community center and “gay church” — is now struggling, with its doors locked while the bills pile up.
“If Stonewall, the most iconic L.G.B.T.Q. bar in the world, is facing an uncertain future, then think about everybody else,” said Stacy Lentz, one of the bar’s owners.
Some establishments have tried selling to-go cocktails, undertaking digital fund-raising or holding online events. Most have laid off or furloughed employees.
Alibi Lounge, which opened in 2016 and describes itself as the only black-owned L.G.B.T.Q. bar in Harlem, has raised more than $105,000 on GoFundMe, but the return on its drink sales is far lower than usual.
“One night we made $10,” said Alexi Minko, the lounge’s owner. “If Alibi closes its doors,” he added, “I am afraid it will send the message to other black men and women that people of color who open an L.G.B.T. business in New York are doomed to fail.”
Tribal governments trying to claim federal relief funds in the U.S. are stuck in limbo.
A question of how to distribute $8 billion set aside for tribal governments in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package is descending into legal infighting, holding up funds at a critical phase in the pandemic.
As new coronavirus hot spots emerge almost daily in the United States and unemployment continues to tick upward, some tribes have filed lawsuits saying that they have not received the amounts they are entitled to.
The lawsuits boil down to disputes over how tribal populations are calculated. One method counts a tribe’s enrolled members, not all of whom live on a given reservation. The other relies on government population figures for specific locations.
Some tribes that would stand to gain more funding if counts were revised have said they would be willing to wait for the litigation to move forward in order to receive a more equitable share. But for many others, the immediate damage from economic downturn has already left members in dire straits.
The lawsuits come weeks after many families and businesses have already received stimulus funding and individual paychecks.
Alarm is building over an explosion of cases in Houston.
As cases and deaths rose earlier this spring in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, the country’s three largest cities, the outlook seemed much better in Houston, the fourth largest.
But this month, as new case reports plummeted around New York City and Chicago, they exploded around Houston. More than 1,100 new infections were reported both Friday and Saturday in Harris County, which includes most of Houston, by far the two highest daily totals there.
Public health experts in Texas warned of a dire outlook. Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, pleaded with residents to wear masks.
“The numbers are only getting worse,” said Lina Hidalgo, Harris County’s top elected official, who spoke of “significant, uncontrolled spread” of the virus and “very disturbing trends” in hospitalizations.
“It is so crucial that all of us modify our behaviors,” Ms. Hidalgo said, “because that is the only thing that is going to keep us from going into a crisis.”
For now, at least, Houston is faring better than its three larger peers. Its per capita infection rate is far lower than that of New York City; Los Angeles County, Calif.; and Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago. Cook County, which is slightly larger than Harris County, has four times as many cases and 13 times as many deaths.
Still, the trends are alarming across most of Texas, where the economy began to reopen in early May.
The state’s testing positivity rate is now approaching 9 percent, up about four points from a month ago. More than 3,200 coronavirus patients are hospitalized statewide, the highest number yet, though many more hospital beds remain available.
In the Dallas area, one of several places seeing huge case growth, residents will soon be required to wear masks at businesses.
“When you see an increase in hospitalizations, you know that there is an exponential number below the water of people who are sick and spreading the disease in our community,” Clay Jenkins, the top official in Dallas County, said. “That’s why we’ve moved to masking.”
Bullfighting, already in decline in Spain, is battered by the lockdown.
Extremeño, an imposing black bull who weighs more than half a ton, was set to fight to the death next month in Valencia, Spain. Instead, the coronavirus gave him an unexpected lease on life: The event was canceled.
Spain ended its state of emergency on Sunday, allowing European visitors to fly in for the first time in months and relaxing lockdown measures across the country. But most of the bullfighting season, which runs from March to October, had already been called off.
Bull breeders and matadors have locked horns with a left-wing Spanish government that they accuse of wanting to use the epidemic as an accelerator for bullfighting’s permanent removal, in line with the wishes of animal rights activists, who say it amounts to torture.
“I find it deplorable that the fiesta of the Spanish people has become so politicized,” said Aurora Algarra, who owns Extremeño. “We now find ourselves under tremendous attack from Spain’s government, but at least this crisis has united us in the face of adversity in a way that I had not seen before.”
Since the lockdown, some animal rights associations have asked the government to disburse funds to help those working in bullfighting find alternative jobs. Many workers are contractually tied to a specific matador, making it hard for them to get jobs elsewhere. Even so, most of the support staff earn money only when there is a fight.
Ana Belén Martín, a politician from Pacma, a party that defends animal rights, said that bullfighting had been declining for over a decade and that it was heading for a natural death. She argued that the coronavirus crisis should not become a reason to extend a lifeline to a cruel pastime.
Contact tracing in New York City is off to a rough start.
New York City hired 3,000 disease detectives and case monitors for its contact-tracing program, but the effort has gotten off to a troubling start.
The tracers are expected to identify anyone who has come into contact with the hundreds of people in the city who are still testing positive for the coronavirus every day. But the first statistics from the program, which began June 1, indicate that tracers are often failing to find infected people or are unable to get information from them.
Of the 5,347 people whose contacts needed to be traced in the first two weeks of the program, only 35 percent provided information about close contacts, the city said in releasing the first statistics.
In lieu of a vaccine, contact tracing is one of the few tools that public health officials have to fight Covid-19, along with widespread testing and isolation of those exposed to the coronavirus. The stumbles in New York’s program raise fresh concerns about the difficulties in preventing a second surge of the outbreak in the city, which is to enter a new phase of its reopening on Monday.
China, South Korea and Germany and other countries have set up extensive tracking programs that have helped officials make major strides in reducing outbreaks. But in Britain, the program has struggled to show results with a low-paid, inexperienced work force.
In Massachusetts, which has one of the United States’ most established tracing programs, health officials said in May that only about 60 percent of infected patients were picking up the phone. In Louisiana, less than half were answering.
Downing St. seeks new powers against foreign takeovers of vaccine firms and other health-related businesses.
The British government will seek greater powers to intercede in foreign business takeovers to make sure that “they do not threaten” Britain’s ability to deal with a public health crisis like the pandemic, according to a government statement published on Sunday.
The law in question is the Enterprise Act 2002, which gave the government the oversight of mergers and takeovers on three public interest considerations: national security, media plurality and financial stability.
The proposed changes, to be presented to Parliament on Monday, would allow the government to intervene on a fourth: the country’s ability to combat a public health emergency.
“The economic disruption caused by the pandemic may mean that some businesses with critical capabilities are more susceptible to takeovers — either from outwardly hostile approaches, or financially distressed companies being sold to malicious parties,” it said, naming as examples “a vaccine research company or personal protective equipment manufacturer.”
Besides public health emergencies, the government will also be able to intervene in mergers relating to artificial intelligence, cryptographic authentication technology and advanced materials — economic sectors that are central to national security.
“These measures will strike the right balance between the U.K.’s national security and resilience while maintaining our world-leading position as an attractive place to invest — the U.K. is open for investment, but not for exploitation,” Alok Sharma, Britain’s business secretary, said in a statement on Sunday.
He added that these changes will convey a message to those who want to take advantage of others who are struggling because of the pandemic.
The government has so far intervened 20 times under the Enterprise Act 2002 — once on financial stability grounds, seven times on media plurality, and 12 on national security grounds.
With Stonehenge closed to the public, millions watch its solstice sunset and sunrise online.
More than 3.6 million people tuned in this weekend to watch a live-streamed summer solstice sunset and sunrise at Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument in southwestern England, after the site’s annual gathering was canceled because of the pandemic.
“The sun might have been elusive, but over 3.6 million of you managed to watch sunset and sunrise with us from Stonehenge,” English Heritage, a charity that manages hundreds of English monuments including Stonehenge, said in a tweet on Sunday.
The summer solstice — when the Northern Hemisphere takes a maximum tilt toward the sun, bathing in direct sunlight for longer than any other day of the year — took place on Saturday, marking the scientific start to summer for half of the world.
Although it remains unclear exactly what kind of events occurred at Stonehenge when it was first erected around 2500 B.C., “marking the movements of the sun” was important to the farmers, herders and pastoralists who built it, and its layout is “positioned in relation to the solstices,” according to English Heritage.
Thousands typically gather at the Neolithic monument each year to celebrate the beginning of summer. Some still made their way close to the site on Saturday, according to local news outlets, despite the rain and the coronavirus restrictions that prevented the site from opening to the public.
Nursing homes are forcing vulnerable residents into homeless shelters and rundown motels.
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, a resident of a Connecticut nursing home was told that he had less than a week to pack his things and move to a homeless shelter, his lawyer said. In April, Los Angeles police officers found an 88-year-old man with dementia crumpled on a city sidewalk. His nursing home had recently deposited him at an unregulated boardinghouse.
And in New York City, nursing homes tried to discharge at least 27 residents to homeless shelters from February through May, according to data from the city’s Department of Homeless Services.
More than any other institution in America, nursing homes have come to symbolize the deadly destruction of the coronavirus. Residents and employees of nursing homes and long-term care facilities represent more than 40 percent of the death toll in the United States.
At the same time, nursing homes across the country have been forcing out older and disabled residents — among the people most susceptible to the coronavirus — and often shunting them into unsafe facilities, according to 22 watchdogs in 16 states.
Critics suggest that such ousters create room for a class of customers who can generate more revenue: patients with Covid-19. Aside from sheltering older people, nursing homes gain much of their business by caring for patients of all ages and income levels who are recovering from surgery or acute illnesses like strokes.
Because of a change in federal reimbursement rates last fall, Covid-19 patients can bring in at least $600 more a day from Medicare than people with relatively mild health issues, according to nursing home executives and state officials.
Many of the evictions, known as involuntary discharges, appear to violate federal rules, and at least four states have restricted nursing homes from evicting patients during the pandemic. But 26 ombudsmen from 18 states provided figures to The Times: a total of more than 6,400 discharges, many to homeless shelters.
“We’re dealing with unsafe discharges, whether it be to a homeless shelter or to unlicensed facilities, on a daily basis,” said Molly Davies, the Los Angeles ombudsman. “And Covid-19 has made this all more urgent.”
Making difficult pandemic conversations easier.
When it’s time to invite people over or arrange a play date, would-be hosts face tough conversations with friends, neighbors and family on their standards for avoiding coronavirus infection. Here are some strategies to help.
Reporting was contributed by Anne Barnard, Keith Bradsher, Aurelien Breeden, Benedict Carey, Emily Cochrane, Melina Delkic, Ben Dooley, James Gorman, Amy Julia Harris, Andrew Higgins, Tariq Panja, Iliana Magra, Raphael Minder, Aimee Ortiz, Sharon Otterman, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Mitch Smith, Liam Stack, Ana Swanson, Hisako Ueno, Neil Vigdor, Mark Walker, Jin Wu, Sameer Yasir and Karen Zraick.